Posts tagged ‘Berlin’

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Deutsche Welle and the Dissidents: Skeletons in the Cupboard

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Market Segmentation in International Media Coverage / 国际媒体报道中有国际市场细分

Coverage concerning DW’s China department follows some kind of market segmentation: there is news for Germans, there’s news fort he international community, and there’s news for Chinese people. The news sources aren’t identical either.

就关于德国之声中文部有媒体报道来说有一种市场细分:有消息是给德国人的,有消息是给国际社会的,有消息是给中国人的。发布消息的来源也不一样。

For example, the Zhang Danhong incident was covered by Chinese and by German media.

比如说,张丹红事件是中国媒体报道的,又是德国媒体报道的。

The events of 2010 and 2011 – the sackings of Wang Fengbo, Zhu Hong, Li Qi und Wang Xueding – were covered by the Chinese media, but hardly by German media. Although I followed the DW story rather closely back then, I only learned about a reliable report which basically confirmed the open letter of the four when I had contacted Wang Fengbo. It was a report by a church-owned press agency, Evangelischer Pressedienst or EPD. This rather comprehensive report wasn’t online, but available from a database, accessible for all interested media, according to former DW editor Li Qi’s “China Nightmare of Deutsche Welle” (published in 2012).

2010 及2011的过程 — 王凤波,朱虹,李琦,及王雪 被停职的时候 — 是中国媒体报道的,但是德国媒体所报道的有关消息很少。虽然我当时比较关注德国之声的故事,但我跟王凤波联络之后才知道有一个可靠的,基本上确定王凤波和他三个被开除的同事在他们 公开信 所描述情况的报道。那个报道是德国福音教会的通讯社,Evangelischer Pressedienst (EPD)。他们的比较全面性的报道不在线的,但是据德国之声被停职编辑员李琦2012所出版的《德国之声的中国梦魇》,德国所有感兴趣的媒体会入口EPD的资料库。看来没有德国媒体感兴趣。

The current case of Su Yutong is covered by German, international, and Chinese media.

现在展现的苏雨桐事件是在德国报道的,又是在国际媒体报道的,又是在中国媒体报道的。

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Deutsche Welle QSL card confirming reception of Kigali relay station, on September 6, 2014, at 04:00 UTC.

If you think that JR and Deutsche Welle don’t communicate with each other, you are wrong: DW QSL card

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Zhang Danhong coverage (2008) / 关于张丹红的报道

One could summarize that Zhang Danhong’s case in 2008 got some attention from German and from Chinese media. Of course, German and Chinese mainstream media looked at things differently. In Germany, there were rather many allegations of Zhang Danhong’s „communist leanings“. Most of these reports didn’t express their own views but quoted activists, politicians, etc.. Purportedly, these media had no opinion of their own. This rather subtle approach is also becoming more widely spread in Chinese media.

总的来讲,2008年的张丹红事件在德国,中国的媒体都有所反映。当然,德国主流媒体和中国主流媒体的看法和说明完全不一样。在德国,ZDH 的 „亲共“ 的指控比较多。这些媒体的报道中,大多数不表示自己的看法,但是引述积极分子,政治家,等等的说法。据称,这些媒体报道就没有自己的看法。这个微妙的做法在中国的媒体也越来越多。

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What can be compared, and what can’t (2014) ? / 什么事情可不可以比较?

DW director Peter Limbourg said in a German television broadcast last week that Su Yutong’s exit had been a single case. And Su Yutong said in an interview with Boxun that her exit could not be compared with the case of Zhang Danhong.

在上个星期播送的一个德国电视台的节目中,德国之声台长彼得•林堡说苏雨桐被离职是单一的事情。但是苏雨桐受博讯访问时说,她自己和张丹红的事件这根本没有可比性

Limbourg is wrong: Su Yutong’s exit is no single case. It can be compared with the end of Wang Fengbo’s, Zhu Hong’s, Li Qi’s, and Wang Xueding’s employment.

但是林堡说的部队。苏雨桐被离职不是单一的事情。跟王凤波,朱虹,李琦,及王雪在2010,2011年被停职的情况可以比较。

And Su Yutong, Boxun, and DW, are all silent about those four cases from 2010 and 2011.

此外,苏雨桐,博讯,其他异议人士等等和DW有一个共同的特点:虽然他们的政治观点看来不一样,他们似乎都不愿意谈到2010/2011年在德国之声被停职的编辑员。

This has become DW’s and the dissidents’ common credibility gap.

现在,这个共同的特点是德国之声及异议人士共同的信誉差距。

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Main related tag:

» Deutsche Welle

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Related

» Be more Xinhua, Oct 10, 2009

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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Deutsche Welle director: Su Yutong “a single case”

German television broadcast a six-minute report on recent events at German foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) on Wednesday last week.

Su Yutong, a blogger and freelancer who was removed from DW’s Chinese department on August 19, was in the German news on Wednesday – in a broadcast on one of Germany’s main two television channels, a media background magazine that starts about fourty minutes before midnight German local time. Asked by Channel 1 (ARD / Das Erste) reporters why Su had been fired, Deutsche Welle director Peter Limbourg said that

This was a single case when we had to had to disassociate with a freelancer who, unfortunately, became active against Deutsche Welle several times and who, to put it carefully, depicted staff and colleagues and managers at Deutsche Welle publicly in a, let’s put it cautiously, dishonarable*) way. That, I think, we can’t afford, just as no company worldwide can afford, and therefore, we drew the consequence in a single case.

Das war ein Einzelfall, wo wir uns von einer freien Mitarbeiterin trennen mussten, die leider mehrfach gegen die Deutsche Welle aktiv wurde und Mitarbeiter und Kollegen und Führungskräfte der Deutschen Welle öffentlich, sagen wir es mal vorsichtig, ehrverletzend dargestellt hat. Das können wir uns, glaube ich, wie kein anderes Unternehmen auf der Welt, eben auch nicht leisten, und insofern haben wir da im Einzelfall die Konsequenz gezogen.

Interestingly, Limbourg did not say that Su had revealed internal information – or ARD didn’t quote him with that during the six-minutes report.

Peter von Hein, former head of the Chinese department (after a return to this position in 2012, he has now once again been removed) had been critical of Deutsche Welle’s new China policy, too. Different from Su Yutong, however, he had voiced his reservations within the organisation, says the report.

Limbourg was asked critical questions about DW’s planned cooperation with China’s state television broadcaster CCTV, and it was also reported that Meinhard-Jörg Rudolph, referred to as a former “program observer” at DW, had to leave one month after Limbourg had taken office. Also asked his opinion, he warned that DW was becoming dependent on China.

There was no mention of the four editors sacked in 2010 and 2011, and no mention of the legal technicalities used to sack either them or Su Yutong.

That, apparently, would cut too closely to the arteries of industrial relations within German media.

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Note

*) There seem to be many translations on offer for the German word ehrverletzend, and neither may fit exactly judicially, in a foreign language. Literally, dishonerable seems to come closest.

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

German Journalists Association Press Release: DW Kowtow to China?

The following is a press release by the German Journalist’s Association (Deutscher Journalisten Verband, DJV), published on Thursday, concerning Deutsche Welle. Links within blockquotes added during translation. First read at Tabooless Babbles. Main link: Kotau vor China?

The German Journalists’ Association has called on Deutsche Welle director Peter Limbourg to support voices critical of China within the German foreign broadcaster, and not to constrain them. Under the new editorial management, too, internal editorial freedom needed to be preserved, DJV federal chairman Michael Konken demanded. “Political issues, with criticism of human-rights violations obviously among them, need to maintain an adequate share in Deutsche Welle’s programs.” “Fabric-conditioned” [or diluted] China coverage with the aim to get access to a censored market was no reasonable option for the German foreign broadcaster. The DJV expects Limbourg to preserve Deutsche Welle’s brand essence as a broadcaster under public law, independent from the state, that reports critically and at arms length about authoritarian regimes of all kinds. Deutsche Welle’s cooperations with Chinese state broadcasters and putting an end to the employment of an author critical of China would do more harm than good to the German foreign broadcaster. “A kowtow to the powerful in Peking doesn’t suit the broadcaster as a voice of liberty”, the DJV chairman said. External Communications Committee: Hendrik Zörner Check with phone 030/72 62 79 20, Fax 030/726 27 92 13

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Der Deutsche Journalisten-Verband hat den Intendanten der Deutschen Welle Peter Limbourg aufgefordert, China-kritische Stimmen im deutschen Auslandssender zu unterstützen und nicht zu behindern.

Auch unter der neuen Redaktionsleitung müsse die innere Redaktionsfreiheit gewahrt werden, forderte DJV-Bundesvorsitzender Michael Konken: „Politische Themen, zu denen selbstverständlich auch die Kritik an Menschenrechtsverletzungen gehört, müssen weiterhin einen angemessenen Anteil am Programmauftritt der Deutschen Welle haben.“ Eine „weichgespülte“ China-Berichterstattung mit dem Ziel, Zugang in einen zensierten Markt zu erhalten, könne für den deutschen Auslandsrundfunk keine vernünftige Option darstellen. Von Intendant Limbourg erwartet der DJV, dass er auch künftig den Markenkern der Deutschen Welle als einem  staatsunabhängigen, öffentlich-rechtlichen Sender bewahrt, der kritisch-distanziert über autoritäre Regime jeglicher Art berichtet. Die von Limbourg angekündigten Kooperationen mit chinesischen Staatssendern und die Beendigung der Tätigkeit einer China-kritischen Autorin durch die Deutsche Welle würden dem deutschen Auslandssender mehr schaden als nützen. „Ein Kotau vor den Mächtigen in Peking vertrüge sich nicht mit dem Ansehen des Senders als Stimme der Freiheit“, sagte der DJV-Vorsitzende. Referat Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit: Hendrik Zörner Bei Rückfragen: Tel. 030/72 62 79 20, Fax 030/726 27 92 13

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Updates/Related

» Peaceful, constructive journalism, Inquirer (Philippines), Sep 9, 2014
» Protest der Mitarbeiter, ver.di, Sep 5, 2014
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Deutsche Welle Task Plan: “Germany must not fall behind”

According to a press release on Wednesday, Deutsche Welle (DW) director Peter Limbourg handed the broadcasting station’s task plan to Norbert Lammert, president of German federal parliament or Bundestag, on Tuesday. The plan (Aufgabenplanung 2014 – 2017) is both a to-do-list and project description, and a request to parliament to fund the projects it contains. On the DW photo, Limbourg manages to look like Lammert’s rich and benevolent uncle with lots to offer.  The photo was shot by Jan Röhl, a freelance photographer in Berlin, who has made photos for DW every now and then and whose website says that every theme should be photographed in a way that makes the beholder wish to experience the displayed situation or to buy the product (das jeweilige Motiv sollte so fotografiert werden, dass der Betrachter den Wunsch verspürt, die dargestellte Situation zu erleben, das Produkt zu erwerben).

“We want to face up to international competition better. To do that, DW has initiated an ambitious course of reorientation”, the director said during the presentation of DW’s strategy for the coming four years. “The interest among global decision makers and opinion formers in our country continues growing. Especially during international crisis and conflicts, the German positions are sought for. Germany’s medial voice in the world communicates it – multi-medial and in thirty languages.”

„Wir wollen uns dem internationalen Wettbewerb besser stellen. Dazu hat die DW einen ambitionierten Kurs der Neuausrichtung eingeleitet“, sagte der Intendant bei der Überreichung der DW-Strategie für die kommenden vier Jahre. „Das Interesse der globalen Entscheider und Meinungsbildner an unserem Land wächst weiter. Gerade in internationalen Krisen und Konflikten sind die deutschen Positionen gefragt. Deutschlands mediale Stimme in der Welt vermittelt sie – multimedial und in 30 Sprachen.“

To the Bundestag president, Limbourg pointed out the enormous efforts made by other states as they strengthened  their global soft power. Russia, for example was advancing the launch of its foreign television program Russia Today’s German program. China, too, was strengthening its medial foreign representation. With this task plan, “we want to convince German politics that Germany must not fall behind in this field”, the director said.

Gegenüber dem Bundestagspräsidenten wies Limbourg auf die enormen Anstrengungen hin, die andere Staaten zur Stärkung ihrer Soft-power in der Welt unternehmen. So treibe Russland den Start eines deutschsprachigen Programms seines Auslandsfernsehens Russia Today voran. Auch China baue seine mediale Außenrepräsentanz aus. Mit der jetzt vorgelegten Aufgabenplanung „wollen wir die deutsche Politik überzeugen, dass Deutschland hier nicht ins Hintertreffen geraten darf“, so der Intendant.

Bundestag President Lammert said: “During these times of current crises, Deutsche Welle fulfills the growingly important task to inform impartially and to explain things. The German program of Deutsche Welle should continue to play an important role.

Bundestagspräsident Norbert Lammert sagte: „Gerade in diesen Zeiten aktueller Krisen erfüllt die Deutsche Welle die immer wichtiger werdende Aufgabe, objektiv zu informieren und aufzuklären. Dabei sollte das deutsche Programm der Deutschen Welle weiterhin eine wichtige Rolle spielen.“

The German program should continue to play an important role. Hear, hear.

Either way, the press release points out that English is meant to become the “flagship” (of DW content, apparently). The focus on English isn’t new, nor is the stated requirement that all content would be planned consistently multi-medially, and interlocked with each other. Interaction with global decisionmakers (“globale Entscheider”) and participants in the formation of political opinion (“Teilnehmer an der politischen Meinungsbildung”), not least by means of “social media” is also emphasized.

Parliament President Lammert should be careful what he wishes for. If German programs should indeed continue to play an important role at DW, chances are that the German language will be savaged by dead sheep. The Germish used in the press release sounds like a washing powder commercial – only less succinct.

Persil washes whiter.

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Related

If Congress will pay, July 5, 2012
Trying to Pigeonhole, Feb 19, 2012
Opinion Leaders, May 20, 2011

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Freedom of Opinion on Workdays

In Zhu Hong‘s (lost) case against Deutsche Welle, there are two factors that may matter most. One would be the difference between conviction or Weltanschauung on the one hand, and differences in opinion on the other. As I understand it, communism, atheism etc. would be Weltanschauungen. Someone employed by a church or a church institution may get fired when he or she declares to be atheist, and that may be legal, as churches are Tendenzbetriebe. Media and publishers, too, are Tendenzbetriebe. However, mere differences of opinion won’t lead to getting sacked that easily, at least not in theory, and employers who give it a try anyway may have a hard time in the labor courts.

The other factor to be reckoned with in Ms Zhu’s case would be her weak position as a quasi-employee (arbeitnehmeränlich beschäftigt). Neither of the four editors at the Chinese department [addition: who lost their jobs or contracts in 2010/11] had a permanent contract. At least one of them, however, was fully employed, but as a temporary employee, not as a permanent employee.

The member of the DW employee committee who basically confirmed the content of the [addition: open letter by] former Chinese-department staff published by Neue Rheinische Zeitung in 2011, was – my interpretation – no temporary employee, let alone only a quasi-employee. He was in a position to differ. Zhu Hong wasn’t.

I was made aware of the two (possible) factors, mentioned in the first paragraph here,  in the commenter thread on my German-language blog, over the weekend. This discussion changed my perception in some ways – the commenter is apparently a lawyer, and was quite prepared to share his views – he noted, however, that it was too early to arrive at final conclusions, as the federal labor court hasn’t published its written opinion yet. The federal labor court argued that Ms Zhu had not been fired for a Weltanschauung. She was no communist. However, if Deutsche Welle wanted more  journalistic distance between itself and the government in Beijing (and the court didn’t try to judge if this was so), even that would be sufficient legal justification to end cooperation with Ms Zhu.

The commenter himself didn’t see the major issue in the concept of Tendenzbetriebe. A labor court case, he wrote, was similar to civil suits in that only the material and arguments brought forward in the proceedings right in court were considered by the judges. That made these proceedings different from administrative courts that may frequently carry out investigations on their own, to get a comprehensive picture.

For an employee with no permanent contract, it won’t be easy to find a point against the (former) employer that would lead a court’s objection to the dismissal of a quasi-employee like Ms Zhu. This is the status of many journalists in Germany. It is a status that makes it easier for papers or other media to fire staff who work on non-permanent contracts, once the deadline is reached, be it for differences or disputes, be it for economic reasons (downsizing). And this, in turn, may lead – an obvious conclusion, in my view -, to a large number of editorial or reporting staff who are afraid of conflicts, with – obvious, I think – drawbacks for freedom of opinion.

In an article not related to the Chinese department in particular, Michael Hirschler of the labor union Deutscher Journalistenverband wrote (undated, but apparently posted early in 2011) that when downsizing is the reason for dismissals, Deutsche Welle has frequently succeeded in getting rid of quasi-employees. The same was true for many other German broadcasters. Hirschler’s advice for freelancers, including quasi-employees, was to join one of the unions – Deutscher Journalistenverband or verdi – to get entitled to the benefits of legal counsel.

Certainly, politicans needed to do their share, too, to keep Deutsche Welle going, wrote Hirschler. In the world of international broadcasting, Deutsche Welle wouldn’t be competitive without sufficient funding. Both freelancers at Deutsche Welle, and permanent employees, should address politicians to this end.

But the next problem may be right there. German federal parliament itself, a place for many lofty speeches condemning questionable avoidance strategies of permanent employment contracts, employed de-facto permanent employees as seemingly self-employed (scheinselbständig), Süddeutsche Zeitung reported earlier this month.

Freedom of opinion and social justice are great topics for Sunday speeches. But they may be very different stories from Monday through Saturday.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Press Review: Li Keqiang in Germany, and the only Disharmony

Xinhua, via Enorth (Tianjin), May 27, 2013 —

Chief state concillor Li Keqiang met with German president Gauck on Sunday.

国务院总理李克强26日在柏林会见德国总统高克。

Li Keqiang conveyed the cordial greetings and best wishes from chairman Xi Jinping. Li Keqiang said that current Sino-German relations were continuously reaching new developments on a high level, with both countries facing rare opportunities. With Merkel, we have deepened the Sino-German strategic partnership, and we held talks about strengthening cooperation in all kinds of fields. The two sides have issued a press communiqué, clearly stating the key areas and the direction of cooperation for our two countries. China is looking forward to strengthen dialog and exchange with Germany on the principles of respect and equal treatment, to enhancing understanding and mutual trust, to jointly cope with challenges.

李克强转达了习近平主席的亲切问候和良好祝愿。李克强说,当前中德关系在高水平上不断取得新发展,两国合作面临难得机遇。我同默克尔总理就深化中德战略伙 伴关系、加强各领域合作举行了很好的会谈,双方发表联合新闻公报,明确两国重点领域合作方向。中方愿本着相互尊重、平等相待的原则,同德方加强对话交流, 增进了解和互信,共同应对挑战。

Discussing China’s development and domestic situation, Li Keqiang said that all along during the past thirty years, China had moved forward, and the economy had achieved huge successes. Construction of a democratic legal system and the cause of human rights had constantly progressed. As a big developing country with 1.3 billion inhabitants, China’s path towards modernization was still long. We are acting from our own country’s national situation [国情, guóqíng, also translated as national characteristics or national circumstances sometimes], adhere to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and at the same time, we want to draw on the civilizational achievements and experiences to achieve comprehensive development even better.

在谈到中国的发展和国内情况时,李克强表示,中国过去30多年一直在改革开放中不停顿地前行,经济社会发展取得巨大成就,民主法制建设和人权事业不断进步。中国作为一个拥有13亿人口的发展中大国,要实现现代化还有很长的路要走。我们从本国国情出发,将坚持走中国特色社会主义道路,同时愿借鉴人类社会的文明成果和有关发展经验,更好实现全面发展。

Gauck welcomed Li Keqiang to Germany and asked him to convey his cordial greetings to Xi Jinping. Gauck said that Germany and China both had a long history and magnificent cultures, and relations between the two countries had developed fine in recent years. Germany admires the achievements of China’s economic and social development and wants to strengthen cooperation and dialog with China in politics, economics, the humanities and other fields, and to promote further development in the relations of the two countries.

高克欢迎李克强访德,并请转达对习近平主席的亲切问候。高克说,德中都拥有悠久历史和灿烂文化,两国关系近年发展良好。德国钦佩中国经济社会发展取得的成就,愿同中方加强政治、经济、人文等领域的合作与对话,推动两国关系取得新发展。

Li also met with Brandenburg’s minister-president Matthias Platzeck in the regional capital Potsdam, next to Berlin. In Potsdam,visiting Cecilienhof Castle there,

Rheinische Post (RP) onkine, May 26, 2013 —

Li Keqiang re-emphaszized his country’s claim on an uninhabited group of islands in the East China Sea. Japan had to hand the territories back to China. “This was a hard-earned fruit of victory”, Li said, pointing to international post-war agreements. The islands, contested between the two countries, had once been stolen from China by Japan.

Li Keqiang bekräftigte in Potsdam den Anspruch seines Landes auf eine unbewohnte Inselgruppe im Ostchinesischen Meer. Japan müsse die Territorien an China zurückgeben. “Das war die Frucht des Sieges, der hart erkämpft wurde”, sagte Li unter Verweis auf internationale Abkommen der Nachkriegszeit. Die zwischen beiden Ländern seit langem umstrittenen Inseln seien China einst von Japan gestohlen worden.

Märkische Allgemeine, May 26, 2013 —

In front of the castle [Cecilienhof], some flurry arose when two Tibet activists wanted to register a spontaneous demonstration. Security forces stopped the protest “along the route of protocol”, as a police spokesman told the MAZ [Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung].

Vor dem Schloss kam kurz Unruhe auf, als zwei Tibet-Aktivisten eine spontane Demonstration anmelden wollten. Sicherheitskräfte unterbanden jedoch den Protest “entlang der Protokollstrecke”, wie ein Polizeisprecher gegenüber der MAZ sagte.

Platzeck, whose heart beats for Dortmund, revealed that the Chinese guest was a soccer fan and that they had talked about the game [between Borussia and Bayern], too. It had turned out that Keqiang had more been in favor of Bayern Munich. That, however, had been the only disharmony between the two politicians, Platzeck assured.

Platzeck, dessen Herz für Dortmund schlug, verriet, dass der chinesische Gast ein Fußball-Fan sei und man auch über das Spiel am Vorabend gesprochen habe. Dabei stellte sich heraus, dass Keqiang eher für den FC Bayern gehalten habe. Dies, so versicherte Platzeck, sei aber die einzige Disharmonie zwischen den beiden Politikern gewesen.

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Related

» Merkel vows, Bloomberg, May 27, 2013
» Industriousness and Wisdom, Jan 9, 2011
» Full of Vitality and Vigor, July 16, 2010

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Germany’s Slow-Motion China Debate

When Mao Zedong died and Hua Guofeng succeeded him, there was much more China coverage on the German media than now – from what I can remember. I was ten years old at the time, but have never forgotten how the newsreaders pronounced the new helmsman’s name: Hu-ah Ku-oh Fang. The muscles in their faces were working hard during the two or three seconds it took to read his name out. The rather intense coverage probably lasted until 1979 at least.

China came back, bigtime, in Germany’s news coverage during 2008 (and, I’m sure, in 1989, too, but I hardly remember that time in the news). By that time, China was no longer a faraway country, with a few blurred television pictures “received in Hong Kong”, but more like news from an uncannily close neighbor.

Meantime, to use a cuisinary term, the clash with China – or the CCP – keeps simmering over low heat in the German press. On March 10 – twenty days ago -, a radio essay by Sabine Pamperrien, the source of many or most of the coverage on the Zhang Danhong affair at Germany’s foreign broadcaster Deutsche Welle  in 2008, was aired by Deutschlandfunk, one of Germany’s two nationwide radio broadcasters. She criticized the views of former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt on non-interference, arguing that in terms of international law, Schmidt’s opinion was a minority opinion, even if Schmidt argued as if his opinion was apodictic. Non-interference wasn’t codified, but derived from customary international law – just as human rights widely were. Pamperrien argues that the “international responsibility to protect (R2P) had been drafted, more than ten years ago, to define the concept of sovereignty within the UN Charter anew. This wasn’t codified either, but was becoming more and more customary:

Deshalb wurde vor über zehn Jahren mit dem Begriff der “internationalen Schutzverantwortung” eine Neudefinition des Souveränitätsbegriffs der Charta der Vereinten Nationen entworfen. Danach sind Menschenrechte nicht innere Angelegenheiten von Staaten, sondern supranationales Recht. Auch das ist nicht kodifiziert, setzt sich gewohnheitsrechtlich aber immer mehr durch.

It should not be forgotten, Pamperrien adds, that non-interference had been the central defense club (Abwehrkeule) of communist potentates during the Entspannungspolitik (détente), whenever dissidents in their countries – or expelled by their governments – became a topic.

Coincidentally or not, Wolf Biermann, a former East German citizen, expelled by the East German government in 1976, wrote an open letter to Liao Yiwu (published on March 27). Biermann expressed anger about Helmut Schmidt (in his capacity as the co-editor of German weekly Die Zeit, which had been speading stinking news lately. Stinking news, that is, about Liao Yiwu.

For sure, German sinologist Wolfgang Kubin had alluded to the topic of Liao Yiwu, and to a chance that Liao’s descriptions might require verification. Friends who had visited Liao in prison had told him (Kubin) that the conditions of Liao’s imprisonment hadn’t been as harsh as he [later] described them, that much what he couldn’t publish here  [in China, apparently] wasn’t documentation, but fiction, and that the case deserved closer investigation (“Der Fall lohnte einer genaueren Untersuchung”).

But that was in October 2012, and Biermann doesn’t state explicitly which comments about Liao Yiwu in Die Zeit caused his anger – Kubin’s, or anyone else’s. In another article, nine days ago, Die Zeit stated that Kubin hadn’t been able to prove his accusation against Liao.

I wrote an article on Biermann’s and Pamperrien’s criticism on “my” German blog – on a platform provided by German weekly Der Freitag – on Wednesday, with a reference to the Zhang Danhong affair and the events that unfolded at Deutsche Welle, It dawned on me that I hadn’t asked myself too many questions about all those events for a long time, and that I hadn’t asked any stakeholders questions for a long time. The thread that followed my post on my German blog was actually instructive – it has given me several ideas on how to do some more research. That may require time, once again, and will inevitably reduce my blogging frequency further – at least for a while.

The funny bit about that is that I’m under no time pressure. No big newsagency, no big paper, no broadcaster is likely to pick up the Deutsche-Welle issues any time soon. But as time passes, more and more information is trickling down – not least from Li Qi‘s Deutsche Welle’s China Nightmare. The book remained available – as far as I can see, no judicial steps have been taken against the publishing house, and apparently, no counterstatements have been made.

The anti-CCP mill, too, is grinding its way rather slowly. Biermann’s reaction to the coverage of Die Zeit seems to suggest that, and so does Pamperrien’s: Helmut Schmidt had made his remarks about non-interference and other issues more than one years earlier, on January 31, 2012.

Back then, Tai De took issue with Schmidt’s remarks about the Korean War.

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Related

» Deutsche Welle Link Collection, Febr 3, 2012
» Xu Pei and the Dirty Old Men, May 17, 2010

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

German Press Review: Kim’s Sugarcubes, and the “Battle of Opinion”

The actions of the North Korean regime are not incalculable, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s (Munich) Reymer Klüver, the paper’s U.S. correspondent until summer last year, and now with the foreign-politics department at Süddeutsche Zeitung. The Kim clan’s provocations were actually quite calculable in its provocations which served only one goal: to show the world and its own people its power. The regime in North Korea doesn’t act incalculably. It acts irresponsibly.

The message is aimed at the Obama administration, believes Klüver, as the test was conducted on the day when the American president delivered the agenda for his second term in office, and at South Korean president-elect Park Geun Hye is about to take office. The reactions, too, were calculable: the US would demand stronger sanctions, China would agree after some hesitation, and basically, the response wouldn’t be different from the one to the previous nuclear test. Even if a bomb of the same explosive power as the previous one was indeed smaller than before, and therefore more suitable to be fitted to a nuclear missile, North Korea remained far from being a threat to America.

What makes the test dangerous all the same would be that Kim might gamble away, and that his provocations could spin out of control. A conflict on the South Korean border could lead to just that kind of scenario. Even worse, non-proliferation might be used to earn some badly needed foreign exchange. There was speculation about North Korean cooperation with Iran on its third test. What would keep a gambler like the dictator in Pyongyang to sell Iran or others his knowledge and even material?

China could influence North Korea, if it wanted to, writes Klüver, but it didn’t want to use it. 90 percent of North Korea’s oil imports depended on China. But China’s calculations could be shifting, Klüver adds: a Peking government paper had mentioned a “high price” that North Korea would have to pay in case of a nuclear test. The Chinese, Klüver recaps, needed to take responsibility for their irresponsible neighbor.

Der Spiegel (Hamburg) chooses the tabloid approach, as far as its choice  of stock photo material is concerned. Underneath a video link photo (from Reuters) that shows Kim Jong-un in flames, the headline is North Korean nuclear power messes with America (Atommacht Nordkorea legt sich mit Amerika an). Der Spiegel’s Andreas Lorenz points out that this could start an arms race, with the US, Japan and North Korea beefing up their missile defense. Xi Jinping acted hardly differently from his predecessor Hu Jintao, Lorenz notes, as he criticizes Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests, but also trying to soften international sanctions. North Korea is an important supplier of commodities to China. And the encapsulated country serves China’s military as a strategic buffer zone between China and the other East Asian states and the US.

Lorenz also quotes the English-language party mouthpiece “Global Times” as suggesting that there was no need for China to placate angry feelings about its role. And Lorenz quotes US expert Siegfried Hecker with concerns that North Korea could sell its atomic-bomb know-how, to Iran, for example.

Die Welt (Berlin) suggests that Kim had thrown the Chinese sugar cubes (i. e. sweetened the third test).

Namely, the third test was preceded by several sessions of North Korean security panels on which Kim ostensibly emphasized the leadership role of his Communist Party. For the first time in the regime’s history, these sessions were made public, writes die Welt’s Torsten Krauel. Kim thus signaled that the third test was controled by the civilian leadership and not, as it had been previously, as an – intransparent to the outside world – decision between an ailing dictator and an incalculable army. (Dem dritten Test gingen nämlich mehrere Sitzungen nordkoreanischer Sicherheitsgremien voraus, auf denen Kim demonstrativ die Führungsrolle seiner Kommunistischen Partei hervorhob. Diese Sitzungen wurden erstmals in der Geschichte des Regimes publik gemacht. Kim Jong-un signalisierte damit, dass der dritte Atomtest unter der Steuerung und Kontrolle der zivilen Führung stattfand und nicht, wie beide Male zuvor, in einer nach außen unklaren Entscheidung zwischen einem kränklichen Diktator und einer unberechenbaren Armee.)

Therefore, Xi Jinping and (theoretically) Barack Obama, too, now had a a definite contact person, believes Krauel.

Alleged North-Korean cooperation with Iran has long been a leitmotif in Die Welt’s coverage, but while more moderate papers like Süddeutsche Zeitung are discussing these allegations too, this week, Die Welt goes one step further and discusses how America could conduct a war on North Korea. However, Krauel concludes that different from Iraq during the years after the Kuwait war, the United Nations weren’t in a state of war with North Korea.

Therefore, it seems to be inevitable to talk with each other in East Asia again, even with a dictator like Kim Jong-un – as unpromising and depressing this prospect may currently look. (Wahrscheinlich führt deshalb tatsächlich kein Weg daran vorbei, in Ostasien wieder miteinander zu reden, sogar mit einem Diktator wie Kim Jong-un – so aussichtslos und bedrückend diese Aussicht derzeit auch erscheinen mag.)

The German mainstream press in general has become much more supportive of militarization of politics than in the past. That is my rough observation, and not backed by statistics. But apparently for the first time, research has been published about how leading German press people – mentioned by name – are interlinked with think tanks, national and international forums, foundations, policy planning groups, etc.. And a presentation of this research also clearly quotes leading press commentators with statements like

Politics must not shun the battle of opinion on the home front if they are convinced of what they purport. [...] The battle for the “hearts and minds” must be conducted among at home, too. (Der Meinungskampf an der Heimatfront darf die Politik nicht scheuen, wenn sie von dem überzeugt ist, was sie vorgibt. [...] Der Kampf um die “hearts and minds” muss auch bei uns geführt werden.)

A newsman’s words, to be clear.

This should not lead to overreaching conclusions. The research does not suggest that everyone is in the boat of an extended security concept (erweiterter Sicherheitsbegriff, including energy and financial-industry issues). But among four leading journalists of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit and Die Welt, definitions of security and threat catalogs had been uncritically adopted (unkritisch übernommen).

There are papers with editorial managers not known for relevant networks – the left leaning Tageszeitung (taz) and Frankfurter Rundschau (FR). Some of their articles correspond with views among the elite, some sharply criticize the extended security concept, according to the report.

Here is another observation that disturbs me: My choice of press-review sources – Süddeutsche Zeitung, Spiegel, Die Welt further above in this blogpost was spontaneous. My information sources of choice when it comes to North Korea’s nuclear test were just these papers. No taz, no Frankfurter Rundschau. However, there’s an excuse:

I thought the Rundschau was no longer online, as they filed for bankruptcy on November 12, 2012.

But in fact, they are still here.

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Related

» Questions Raised, November 10, 2012

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